Category Archives: Reading the Bible

You Are An Arrow

You are an arrow made by God for a specific and detailed journey to the target of eternal life. You are not mass-produced with cheap materials and poor direction. There are many liars and a father of lies who desire you to believe you are cheap, but that is not true. You are beautiful and priceless.

Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

God makes only the best of everything, including you, Your design is perfect, and you have a purpose. This is who you are in Christ, the Son of God, and you will find your way to your design and purpose through Him.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not die but have everlasting life.”
You are God’s special arrow. If you stay in the quiver, you will not find your destiny. Ask him to be sent forth. Ask for your path to be straight and true. When you are set free from God’s bow, you will not fall short of the target. He is both your archer and your target. His is a no fail system. You can trust him, but you can’t trust yourself.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight.”
Start here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1&version=NLT

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Seeking Wisdom?

“Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!” Psalm 111:10

“”Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Proverbs 1:7

‘If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:5-6

When we concede to God in all things, acknowledging him before any other consideration, he says, this is where wisdom comes from. We must trust God and only God in this matter. There are no alternatives.

Examine the world around you. What is taken for wisdom in the world will be proved to be foolishness instead. For example, you may know someone who stockpiles groceries and household items. They firmly believe they are saving money wisely by buying up all the “deals” in the stores and storing most of what is bought because it cannot all be used immediately. Think of what could happen to the stored items. Fire, flood, wind, theft, moth, rust, and corruption! Foods expire and paper products get damp and moldy. Fourteen bottles of shampoo are a waste of money, even if they were only 25 cents apiece, ($3.50)  if your hair falls out from sickness.  God has promised to provide everything we need for daily life. He will keep this promise faithfully; when we trust him to do it, then we are wise. If we look at someone’s stockpile and think, “I need one of those,” because we fear we will run out of these things, then we are not trusting the Lord.

Fear of the LORD, that is, trusting him completely in all things, is the foundation for wisdom. Jesus Christ is the Rock of our salvation, and we build upward from him. Read Luke 7:46-49. The storms of life cannot shake the Lord. The storms of life easily wipe out what is made by men.

Fools despise wisdom and discipline. It takes discipline to be able to trust God completely. He will bring you through each test to success, but you have to believe he is doing it! Wavering back and forth between what you know the Lord says and what the world around you is saying will just make it harder to get through. Double-mindedness causes more storm tossing.

To know what God is saying about a subject, search the scriptures. Be patient! Even if  your mind is in a turmoil today, listen as you read with your heart, and the Lord will lead you to the truth. Reminder – the scripture in James chapter one says to ASK our very, very, very generous God for wisdom, and he will give it to you. He wants to give it to you.

Thank you, Father God, for your generosity and gifts of wisdom. Thank you for teaching me right disciplines to operate in your wisdom and never be swept away by foolishness again. Bless all who read this now with a desire to trust you completely and seek you today, in Jesus’ Name.

 

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Worshiping God Together

Nehemiah 8:10 “This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

May I recommend that you read the entire book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament of the Bible, and especially chew on chapter 8. The context of the verse quoted above is instructive! The people of Israel had been hearing the Law of God read aloud to them and a group of them called the Levites also explained what they were hearing. These people had been reunited in Jerusalem and the surrounding area after long years of captivity away and were only re-discovering God’s Word. They were astounded and awed. His Word resonated in their hearts and minds and later in the book you will read that they vowed to follow the law and be blessed by God.

Chapter 8 gives us a nice pattern for meeting together to meet with God and give Him our complete attention.  There are five specific steps included, whcih we can easily follow in our church meetings today. The guidelines are simple! God always makes things simple to understand, even how we can have unity and worship Him!

1. A time of praise. The people stood, with their hands lifted, offering praise to God. The book doesn’t say that they sang, but as singers were an integral segment of Temple staff, singing and music could certainly be included.

2. There was a time of worship. The people bowed low to the ground and offered their complete selves to God in worship. There was no lolling around in easy chairs presuming equality living room time with God for this kind of serious worship. Purposeful reverence required involvement of body, mind and spirit all reverently bowed before the Lord their God.  More than likely, the people were also dressed in their very best garments. God deserves our first and best of everything.

3. Next came a time of preaching. The Levites, God’s appointed priests to the people explained the Word of God.

4. Following the preaching came a time of repenting. The Word of God entered into the hearts of the people and revealed what they needed to do to be right with God and they did this immediately.

5. Finally, a time of celebration. The people were told to feast and share what they had with people who did not have anything prepared. This precedent deserves much meditation by all believers!  Today, as Christ commanded we remember Him,  we would most certainly include the Lord’s supper, or communion following the time of repentance. Many millions of people in the world come to communion unprepared. They do not understand any of the Lord’s commandments regarding the bread and the cup, and so they take it unworthily, thus sinning against the Lord.  All you who do know what the Lord has said and follow Him in truth have the right and the obligation to prepare others.  Recommended reading further on this:

I John 5:13-21, 2 John

Being prepared to celebrate Christ and being forgiven of sin means that you must know and receive the truth that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, that he came to earth to die for the sins of all, and that he rose from the dead.  Review the pattern given to us in Nehemiah, practice it for yourself, and you will find that the Lord will raise you up to bring others in!

God bless you with His mighty joy as you worship God today.

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Priority of the Heart

Do you have trouble prioritizing? Do you feel that you are going in circles without a door to get out and move forward? The book of Proverbs offers you direct instruction from God how to stay on the path that will get you somewhere.

Proverbs chapter 4, verse 23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.”

That is very clear, isn’t it? First things first: guard your heart. Everything else you do is going to be affected by what is in your heart.

How do you guard your heart? Obviously, we can do this, or God would not have told us to do it.  Here are some tips:

1. Give your heart to Jesus, God the Son, for safe keeping. He died for you, to pay the price for your sin and give you eternal life, and He rose from being dead to prove that death is defeated. He is with God the Father now, praying for you. Who is better to keep your heart safe?

2. Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and don’t try to figure everything out. See Proverbs 3:5  When you are constantly analyzing your thoughts and emotions, and other people’s thoughts and emotions looking for what they mean, you will only get snarled up and confused.  Apart from the Lord, emotions reflect only circumstances, and circumstances change constantly. God never changes. His ways are consistent with everything He says.

3. Let your heart be open to new input from the Word of God and learn to hear His voice this way. When you read scripture, listen with all your heart to what the Lord is saying. Our minds can be closed to new insights because we have been taught certain things, but God wants us to hear Him with our spirits. The way to do this is to keep an open heart. Then ask God to apply what you hear to your mind and your daily life.

4. To guard your heart from evil influence, regularly put on the whole armor of God. See Ephesians 6:10-18

Now, you are walking in the wisdom of Proverbs 4:23 and guarding your heart as best you know how. Now rest in the truth that your Lord and your God takes full responsibility for every step you take today  as you have placed yourself in His care. Your priorities are in order!

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Grief and God

Every person experiences  separation from a loved one by circumstances, trouble, or death. It is going to happen to you if it hasn’t happened. When the pain of loss strikes, we react. It is what we do, and we cannot avoid the trauma of grief.

Grieving can be constructive or destructive. The first time it happens, most of us don’t fully understand how we are being affected. We say and do things we would not normally do, and we are unaware of the difference. At some later date, we look back and realize we were not in touch with the real world during that initial time of grief. If we have stuffed our pain deep inside somewhere to keep up appearances as normal, we are only fooling ourselves.  It will not go away by itself.

The purpose of pain is not from God. It is a result of sin in the world, and because we are born into the corrupt world, we cannot avoid grief and pain.

However, God certainly can use our trouble to our advantage. First of all, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be the sacrifice to pay for the sin debt loaded upon us. Sin leads to death, always, but by accepting Jesus as the One who paid that debt for us, we are totally saved from paying ourselves, and we go to be with God when we die instead of being eternally separated from him. Sin separates us from God, so God uses pain and trouble and grief to show us the results of sin and bring us to himself and save us.

God never wastes anything.

When grieving goes on and on, we become radically different from the persons we were before the loss that causes the grief. There are times when grief has become a habit and a comfort zone. We can’t move forward until we are willing to risk letting go of the grief. Sometimes grief paralyzes us; we go on as usual, but numb in our souls, and eventually, months or years later,  it has to come out. Many undiagnosed illnesses are probably a result of grief paralysis. These are examples of what may happen, but for sure, a grieving person’s character changes over time.

We can choose to let God make changes. People say “time heals” but that isn’t actually true. It is God who heals. As we pass through our life, we learn and grow and do new things, and God uses these new experinces to help us heal up.  He brings out his purpose of conforming us to Christ when we let him handle our grief instead of stowing it away as a personal possession or tyring to ignore it.

God is in the resurrection business. In John chapter 11, you can read the account of Lazarus’ death and how Jesus came to his tomb and raised him from the dead. Jesus did not come when first called when Lazarus was sick, so Lazarus died. Jesus remained away because he had a reason – to raise Lazarus from death and everyone saw God’s glory. In the time between the death and Jesus’ arrival, Lazarus’ sister Mary got herself in to a state and railed at Jesus when he did get there: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!” Jesus did not get angry with her for that. He groaned in spirit and wept with her. Then he set about changing the situation. In this case, he called Lazarus back to life. In your case, if you have been grieving too long and cannot get out, he will restore you to life.

So much more could be said about how God handles grief. The only thing we need to remember , though, is to give it to him to handle! Man’s methods are partial and destructive, while God’s methods are always complete and constructive. Here is a prayer to get you started, please say it out loud:

Father, I ask you to take this burden of suffering I have been carrying. It belongs to you now and I never want to carry it again. If I try to pick it up again, please remind me that it is yours, not mine. I understand that Jesus paid for all that I carry on the cross and that is why it is yours and not mine. I ask for your peace that passes all understanding now to be rooted and grounded in me. Thank you for your love and compassion and mercy. In Jesus’ Name.

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The Voice of God

Psalm 29 describes what can happen when God’s voice sounds over creation.  His voice echoes thunderously over the sea. His voice splits trees and mountains skip out of the way, His voice strikes with lightning bolts and makes the desert shake and quake. His voice twists mighty trees and strips entire forests bare.

You can see that King David, as he wrote this Psalm, is comparing hearing the voice of God to the power in lightning, raging seas, earthquakes,  and tornadoes. The voice of God is filled with power and majesty and greater than all these events put together. Think of the power of a tsunami. Everything in its path is washed out in the moment of its arrival, and nothing escapes. God’s voice is even greater.

Because God can speak and everything he made by his word can also be unmade,  consider his awesome mercy to us. Jesus Christ the only begotten son of God  is the word of God come to live with us and save us from the wrath of God. Jesus paid for out sin that separated us from God with his own body, giving himself up to death in the ultimate sacrifice. Then he rose from the dead even defeating death itself and to all who believe he offers his eternal life with him.

He puts his own spirit in us so that we can hear God right inside us and there is as much power in his still, small voice as there is in the sound that makes mountains leap aside.

He chooses us and teaches us to hear his voice and speak what we hear to the dying world so that all might be saved.

Do you desire the power and majesty of almighty God in your life? Begin to seek him in his written word, trust him to teach you, and signs and wonders shall follow. Give him honor for his glory and strength.

God rules over the floodwaters, and he rules over you. He is king forever. He gives his people strength, and he blesses them with peace. (Ps. 29:10-11)

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By Your Fruit Shall You Be Known

Matthew 7: 15  “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.  16  You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  17  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  18  A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  19  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.  20  Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

This short passage of scripture is words that Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples while teaching them. A great crowd was also there, listening. 

Now, a couple of thousand years later, we are still a great crowd, listening. Isn’t that awesome?

Today, we also have great need to discern good people from bad people, and right teaching from wrong teaching. We need to examine ourselves, also.  To do this, we need a foundation source of truth on which to base our determination.  That source is God’s Word, the Bible, the leading of the Holy Spirit, and our submission to God in prayer. First, before we can discern what kind of fruit a person or group of people bears, we need to know what to look for.  For example, read Galations 5:19-22 –

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

The old sinful nature produces bad fruit, and the new nature we receive from Christ produces good fruit; the fruit that grows in the Holy Spirit.

By carefully examining where someone’s thoughts and actions lead them, you can know whether or not that person is of God. It is important to remember that God never changes, which means He doesn’t have opinions that change, like we do. He is who He is, and Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  So if someone asks you to believe, for example, that God has changed his mind about what He said in Romans chapter one about some things people do that are wicked in His sight, then you can know that those teachers are false and anything they do will produce bad fruit. You might not see it immediately, but you will see it. You can even ask God to reveal it, so you know right away.

The only real prophets are fully surrendered to God in Christ Jesus and do not lean on any other understanding, including their own intellect.

Do you want to rightly understand God’s Word of truth? Do you want to always produce good fruit? Good fruit is your legacy to others who come after you. When all else is swept away, your spiritual fruit remains.

Here is wisdom from the Lord, then, to set you on the path to bearing good fruit:

Proverbs 3: 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
      do not depend on your own understanding.
 
6 Seek his will in all you do,
      and he will show you which path to take.

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A Life of Decisions

In the Body of Christ, every believer and follower of Christ has the right and privilege of knowing His perfect will in every circumstance and situation. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ living inside us, will guide us into ALL TRUTH. 

Have you ever wanted to know either the history or the outcome of a particular situation? God knows these things, and he is willing to share information. Often we make our choices based on pre-judging (prejudice) or assumption because of what we see. God wants us to make choices based on faith, or what we can’t see, which is believing He knows everything, and what He knows is perfect and best. 

Nearly all the time, special knowledge from God is not needed to make a right decision. We have His written Word, the Bible, where every life issue can be weighed with the principles and commands spelled out clearly for us. The Spirit of God will always use the Word of God to teach us and make God’s perfect will clear to us. 

Here is one example of how God leads and teaches us.  We begin with some scriptures.

Genesis 2:23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.

   “This one is bone from my bone,
      and flesh from my flesh!
   She will be called ‘woman,’
      because she was taken from ‘man.’”

 24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

Ephesians 5:31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

These two passages reveal the heart of God how marriage is ordained to work. God does not give anyone a pass on this. If you will read all of Ephesians 5, you will learn that marriage is a representation of Christ’s relationship to His Body, which is all believers. In order for Christ to be properly and truthfully demonstrated in marriage, a man must leave his parents and become one with his wife. When we became Christians, we became mysteriously joined to Christ in a relationship that the world we leave behind for that cannot understand. So it is that only the husband and wife can understand their own relationship with each other. Parents are not to be initmately involved inthat relationship, because that is not God’s plan. The book of Ephesians is greatly descriptive of how the Holy Spirit creates intimacy with believers and reveals truth. Marriage is a Spirit-led union. Any influence apart from God is impurity. Missing the mark. Sin.

Only the Hoy Spirit can bring about complete intimacy between Christ and man; between Christ and the church while we remain on this earth. When we get to heaven, then we shall know even as we are already known by God. I Corinthians 13 11-12 says, When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Here are questions for you to ponder today: do you want to know God intimately or partially? Do you want to live in truth? 

There is a way you can begin to unravel how your life has gone so far, and set the order for a right future. Make three columns on paper. In the first column, wirte down every major decision you have every made in a list. Leave lots of room between. In the second column, next to each listed decision, write down how that decision turned out. Good, bad, indifferent, or maybe you have never figured it out totally.  In the third column, write what God says about your decision. At the right of this blog, there is a link to Bible Gateway where you can research many Bible translations, topics, and commentaries. This third column will take some time. You are encouraged to completely finish this task.

Decisions based on truth will shine like heavenly lights. Praise and thank God for those! 

Decisions based on personal prejudice or wrong teaching from your past require cleansing. Seek the Lord for forgiveness and surrender yourself to His leading for what to do about these things. He will lead you into real truth that you can believe wholeheartedly. He will lead you into a right future.

Sometimes we have based new decisions on old bad decisions. We think the new choices will fix the old ones, or make them better. This can make getting at the truth involved and tricky. However, if you will rely on God, surrendering to the teaching and power of the Holy Spirit, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32) Then you can finish up the good work God has begun in you! 

Philippians 1:6 (New Living Translation) ” And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Have a great day in the Lord!

 

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A Shaft of Light

Has your relationship with God ever resulted in a good event or change that you know for certain could not have taken place without being in   relationship with Him? The outcome causes you to be thankful and comforted and thinking, “Isn’t that just like God!”

Need an example to clarify? How about Philippians 4:6 & 7 -‘ Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.’  This is a promise from the Bible, which is God’s book written to us so we can know what He thinks about everything. The promise says that if you give whatever you could worry about to Him, and your heart is thankful toward God that you know He’s in control of everything, then there is a result you can expect from God. He will make sure you have His peace. It will keep you safely tied to Christ. Your problem won’t be able to overwhelm you. Jesus Christ has already taken care of it.

Knowing God from studying the Bible builds our relationship with Him. When we are clear about what the Lord thinks, and we grow close to Him, and we begin to think like Him, also. This is where we start to see great results of this relationship.  We can think of our vertical closeness to Christ as walking in a perfect beam of Light.  Our horizontal experiences here on the surface of planet Earth begin to absorb into the light. We can see where we are going, and get there without stumbling around. Psalm 119:105 says,  ‘Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path. ‘ It is not a dim flashlight beam in our human hands, wandering back and forth across a dark path. God’s Word is a mighty shaft of invincible Light coming directly from Himself to us. His Spirit brings His meaning to life in us. Everything God says and does works together for our good.

Good things happen when we rely totally on the Lord. We do not put our trust in people, because they fail us and we fail them. And God NEVER fails. His lovingkindness is everlasting. His results are sure.

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Merry Christmas!

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

That is from the Gospel of John, where you can read the whole story in chapter 3. Jesus says those words to Nicodemus, one of the Pharisess, who came to Jesus by night (in stealth) to avoid condemnation from his peers. In this meeting, Jesus gave Nicodemus every bit of information He needed to believe in Him and receive Him  as Lord and Savior. Nicodemus did become a believer; you can find that in John 19:39. He also stopped hiding his faith from the other pharisees, most of whom participated in getting Jesus put to death. 

When Jesus gave up His life on the cross, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took His body, wrapped it with spices for burial,  and placed it in a nearby tomb. Did these men know Jesus would rise from the dead in a few days? They knew the scriptures, and they knew what Jesus had said. They heard the news or perhaps even witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I think they must have had at least a hope in their hearts that He would be raised. He was their Messiah, and they knew He promised eternal life.  I think Nicodemus and his friend Joseph were part of the group who stayed in an upper room with the doors locked for fear of the Jews. Then Jesus, the risen Christ, came into the room miraculously and spoke peace to them. I think they were part of the group who later waited and prayed for the Holy Spirit to come after Jesus had ascended to heaven to be with His Father. They were men who were well known in Jerusalem, so their testimony of emerging filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaiming Jesus as Messiah would have had a tremendous impact in that city.

Who is Jesus Christ to you? Someone you meet secretly and keep private? He was and is a very public figure, beloved. If you really love Him, you will go where He goes. You will follow Him. 

In Western culture, it is “acceptable” to proclaim you are a Christian by attending church weekly, giving alms, doing some charitable works, and abtaining from evil. Christ is assumed to be there is the background, nodding and approving but remaining aloof. Dear friends, He is not remaining aloof by choice. That is what humans are doing to Him to make their lives easier. Real Christians are not ashamed of the Gospel.  

To understand who Jesus Christ is, you must read the Bible. All of it. It is His Word, and it is all about Him. Begin with the Gospel of John. Then Acts. Then Romans. Then Ephesians. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth. This is one of His job functions.

Everything written in the Bible is for you personally, just as Christ risen is for you personally. 

Lord, I pray for those who will read your Word and talk with you. I ask you to reveal your personality and love and power to each one today. A very special Christmas gift that lasts forever. Thank You!

I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ for each of you to know Him today.

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